This unit is ‘strategic’ because it will inform business decisions about sustainability. The unit looks at an organisation’s interactions with its environment and applies a risk management approach to determine how it should respond to the identified risks.
This needs to be based on a solid understanding of the business – its goals, processes, procedures and value chain. It also requires application of knowledge about the range of sustainability issues that might affect the business and the options for managing or eliminating risks and reducing or mitigating impacts.
The unit specifies that the ‘three pillars’ of sustainability must be addressed – economic, social and environmental sustainability.
The unit includes negotiating with stakeholders and communicating to gain support for the recommendations but it does not progress to implementing the responses.
As part of a Graduate Certificate (AQF 8 ) it is expected that the person can work independently and exercise judgement based on advanced knowledge and skills. Read more about AQF qualification levels…
For this unit they should be able to initiate, plan, implement and evaluate their own activities within the context of enterprise goals, policies and procedures.
The unit should be applied to a significant portion of the value chain or several small sections of the value chain. These may be internal or external to the organisation. While the unit chooses part/s of the organisation’s value chain to focus on, the elements are based on process mapping rather than value stream mapping.
1 Analyse interactions with organisation’s environment
This starts with a process map of a portion of the value chain. Making the choice as to which portion of the value chain is to be analysed is not covered in the unit.
The process map is about identifying steps so that specific sustainability interactions can be identified and analysed. Interactions may be two-way and they may be positive or negative. Social, economic and environmental interactions need to be considered.
The interactions are then analysed looking at the overall picture. This may simply reflect the sum of the parts – a list of a certain number of interactions. Or there could be something in the sum which results in greater or less significance than the sum of the parts. For example, the release of particulates and gas emissions may already be managed, but if combined with major construction work on the facilities might result in increased risk of community complaints.
2 Determine the significance of each impact
The impact of these interactions is then determined.
Every process step does have interactions on all three parts, but the impacts may be large or small. Here the significance of these impacts is analysed.
There could also be interactions between individual impacts. Something that affects the local ecology may also result in local social issues. One example might be a coal seam gas company that treats the water it recovers during its gas extraction and makes this water available for local use. This could reduce the ecological impact and potentially provide a reliable water source, leading to a more viable local community.
Conversely, the release of particulates and gas emissions from combustion of diesel fuel might have a significant environmental impact. But it will also have a community impact to the extent the emissions are released directly to the air. There could also be economic (and further environmental and social) impact if there is a high risk of fuel leaks.
There can be different ways to determine the significance of these impacts; but it does require some system of criteria and rankings. The Range Statement lists a hierarchy of loss and degradation, but there may be other factors. And it will depend on the types of impact identified and the context. A rapid low level change may be rated worse than a slow but significant change; the consumption of water might rate highly in a drought affected area; or cement manufacturers might regard permanent loss of resources (shale/stone) differently from furniture makers who can choose between plantation timber and old growth forest.
So the system for ranking can be defined by the enterprise. It might be done formally (e.g. at a meeting) or informally by talking to various stakeholders. But it should be based on a consistent definition of ‘significance’ which is relevant and supported within their organisation.
3 Develop an appropriate response for each interaction
In this element the appropriate response will also ‘depend’. This time it depends in part on the significance ranking given to impacts (Element 2). For some of them the appropriate response might be to ‘wait and see’ while focusing on the more significant impacts.
This element takes a root cause analysis (RCA) approach but it is applied to ‘impacts’ rather than ‘problems’. Instead of cutting down the causal tree to prevent recurrence of a problem the focus is on mitigation; and the tree helps to identify where to focus. Keep in mind that any action has a reaction, and an impact might be negative or positive. So there will always be some sort of impact; the aim is to minimise the bad side and maximise any good side.
In order to develop responses the learner will need to apply their process knowledge and analyse a range of options. They will need to review how different options might generate different sustainability impacts, how to do current things better and whether there are alternative ways of achieving the desired outcomes.
It is important to look at the sum of the parts. In some cases a non-significant impact on its own might be minor, but in combination with other minor things could become significant, or proposed responses might interact with each other. So, different responses might be identified based on the holistic view.
4 Communicate with relevant stakeholders
Communications are important in order to let people know what is happening, get meaningful information and input and generally engage people with the process. To achieve this communications need to be targeted to different stakeholders, so they need to be identified first – both internal and external stakeholders. Then the decisions are about what information they need, when and how to convey it.
Sometimes it will be appropriate to provide information to ‘sell’ the process; but this is not just ‘spin’. It is about explaining why something is happening and why it is of value to the various stakeholders, sometimes in the face of barriers and scepticism. Other times it might be seeking data about the impacts or negotiating in order to develop the responses.
5 Communicate required responses as appropriate
Communications again, but now they are about generating engagement with the ‘responses’ i.e. what is going to happen. ‘Pitch’ is used in the sales sense of ‘making the pitch’ – actions need to be sold. But they also need to be pitched to the particular audience and in a suitable format; and this can vary between stakeholders.
The ‘reports’ and ‘recommendations’ do not have to be traditional paper reports although that might be typical in many businesses (and convenient for assessment purposes). They may be in any form used by the enterprise and this could be briefings, team meetings, local community information sessions or perhaps online articles or blogs. Covering the different stakeholders might mean a combination of these.
‘Recording’ is generally about accountability and transparency; this will be defined by the organisation to its meet compliance, governance and procedural commitments.
As an RTO your assessment must cover all of the requirements of the unit of competency, including Elements, Performance Criteria, Range Conditions and the new Assessment Requirements. While the Assessment Requirements can be downloaded (training.gov.au) as a separate document they are part of the complete unit of competency.
The Assessment Requirements comprise Performance Evidence, Knowledge Evidence and Assessment Conditions. The Performance Evidence and Knowledge Evidence sections are self-explanatory and go some way to defining the evidence that you need collect.
For example, the unit does not specify any processes for analysing or ranking the sustainability impacts. It does not specify a process for identifying the cause/s of the impacts or for identifying stakeholders. These are some of the areas where you need to understand how a particular business operates or how these activities would typically be done in an industry or sector.
To some extent this might depend on the size of the business. For example a large business may have a standard method for RCA and clear procedures for communicating with the local community. They may have a risk analysis system or even an environmental management system in place. These can be incorporated in the contextualisation, keeping in mind that the ‘three pillars’ of social, economic and environmental sustainability need to be covered within this unit.
In a smaller business the owner/manager might be doing this unit of competency and there might be no relevant procedures in place. In this context informal processes might be used that still meet the requirements of the unit.
The Assessment Conditions define the conditions that must apply to the assessment process, for example:
- The collection of performance evidence is best done from a report and/or folio of evidence drawn from:
- a single project which provides sufficient evidence of the requirements of all the elements and performance criteria
- multiple smaller projects which together provide sufficient evidence of the requirements of all the elements and performance criteria.
- A third party report, or similar, may be needed to testify to the work done by the individual, particularly when the project has been done as part of a project team.
- Assessment should use a real project where the determination of the carbon footprint along a value chain or portion of a value chain occurs for an operational workplace.
They also provide outline how the assessor can meet the requirements for vocational competency and currency:
- Technical competence can be demonstrated through:
- relevant VET or other qualification/Statement of Attainment AND/OR
- relevant workplace experience
- Currency can be demonstrated through:
- performing the competency being assessed as part of current employment OR
- having consulted with an organisation providing relevant environmental monitoring, management or technology services about performing the competency being assessed within the last twelve months.
Most units of competency require some skills that are ‘embedded’ or assumed. These are required within the unit but are not spelled out in the elements or performance criteria or range statement.
In this unit they include:
- process mapping
- risk management
- root cause analysis.
You need to take these into consideration in planning your resources and delivery. You will need to determine whether participants already have these skills or whether you need to cover them in your training and skills development activities and your resource materials.
Assessment of the embedded skills is a given; they must be assessed because they form part of the unit. In other words, if the unit is assessed correctly it will automatically include an assessment of these embedded skills.
If the embedded skills can not be demonstrated additional training, mentoring or other skills development activities might be required. In some cases these might align to other units of competency.
In developing a training and assessment strategy you will need to customise your program and decide which units to package into the program and whether to group any units for delivery and assessment. You might want to cluster units; or integrate the content into modules or learning objects.
How (and whether) to group the units will vary depending on the needs of the participant, the needs and goals of the business and how it operates.
In some situations it might be useful to group this unit with: